What are the Penalties for Copyright Infringement?

The penalties for copyright infringement are very harsh. Civil and/or criminal penalties may be imposed. You may be required to pay actual and statutory damages in addition to court costs and attorney's fees. Statutory damages a court may award range from $750 to $30,000. Copyright infringement involving the duplication of more than 10 copies having a total retail value of more than $2,500 is a felony. Criminal penalties may include a fine of $150,00 for each separate act and a jail sentence of 5 years. Copyright owners have sued and will probably continue to sue individuals as well as institutions. The University may or may not support you in your lawsuit.

Who is Going to Catch Me?

Instructors have been caught when one of their students requested permission to use copyrighted material distributed in a class, leading the copyright owner to realize that permission was not granted to anyone at the institution. Also, an angry or disgruntled student may report copyright infringements.

Permissions Web Sites

All Formats:

US Copyright Office  

University of Texas Permissions Web Site


Copyright Clearance Center      






Kohn on Music Licensing (book)

Motion Pictures:

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation

Sample Letter

A sample letter, like one might send to a publisher to request permission to copy a work.

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